The consumer within the enterprise
By Felix Foong December 23, 2014
- Employees want their corporate tech to behave like their personal tech
- IT management must move from device-centric view to one that’s people-centric
TODAY’S employers are eager to give their team the tools they need to do their jobs to the best of their ability. When they’re working, employees expect consistent access to corporate tools and data regardless of the type of device they’re using.
And in many cases, employees feel able to work more effectively on their own laptops, tablets and smartphones.
The reason is simple: They understand how their devices work and the various features that allow them to focus on doing their jobs, rather than wrestling with technology.
Allowing these ‘consumers’ to use their own mobile devices in the workplace can offer genuine benefits to organisations, in terms of employee performance, productivity and morale.
IDC’s latest enterprise mobility study forecasts that more than seven million smartphones and close to two million tablets are expected to be shipped in Malaysia in 2014, and many of these will be used for work.
More than 50% of the organisations studied were utilising either Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) or corporate-provisioned mobile devices, but 55.3% of these organisations have no solutions to manage these devices.
Therein lies the challenge: The continuing proliferation of consumer devices and ubiquitous information access is driving the enterprise away from a device-centric model centred on corporate-owned and -provisioned devices to a BYOD model in which employees use their own devices to access corporate applications and data.
Employees today want their corporate-issued technology and resources to look and behave like their personal technology – always-on and always available from any device, from virtually anywhere.
The trend toward BYOD – and with it, the move toward the consumerisation of IT – presents an opportunity for IT to help increase user productivity and satisfaction.
At the same time, this trend brings numerous management and security challenges to IT organisations, which must see that enterprise infrastructure and corporate data are protected from malicious intent, while ensuring that these resources can be accessed in compliance with corporate policies regardless of device type or location.
An enterprise model that supports the use of consumer devices in the workplace and the ability to work from virtually anywhere and anytime must move from a device-centric view of IT management to one that’s people-centric.
Supporting the consumerisation of IT, while retaining effective management, security, and compliance capabilities, can be a challenge.
Organisations require enterprise tools and technologies to help with key enterprise tasks, such as identifying non-corporate devices; delivering applications and data to those devices with the best possible user experience; and establishing and enforcing policies on devices based on the user’s role.
The IT team will have the ability to maintain security across all device types, regardless of whether the devices are corporate or personal assets, and establish security measures that protect their organisations’ systems, data, and networks.
The consumerisation of enterprise IT is an irreversible trend. Organisations that develop clear goals and policies to accommodate a burgeoning number of personal devices, ubiquitous information access, and the resulting flexible work styles can benefit from employees who are more motivated and productive – while still retaining the efficient management and enterprise security and governance required by IT departments.
Organisations need to look across the entire consumerisation stack – the user, device, applications, and data – to make sure proper policies and technologies are in place at each level.
Rights management, dynamic access control, and auditing are just as important, if not more so, than the configuration policies for any particular device.
With an intelligent infrastructure, organisations can provide easy access to applications and data so that users can remain productive.
IT administrators can implement technologies and procedures to manage disparate devices, and also help to protect the organisation’s systems, data, and network.
A people-centric approach
Embracing and managing the consumerisation of IT goes beyond simply allowing people to choose which devices they want to use. A people-centric IT solution addresses these IT requirements:
- Devices must be easily integrated into the corporate infrastructure.
- Devices must be configured to become and remain compliant with corporate access and security policies as long as they’re used for work.
- People must be able to access the applications and data they need to be productive in a consistent way.
- Corporate applications and data must be protected and accessed only by compliant devices.
- Corporate information must be removed from devices when they’re lost, stolen, or replaced.
Organisations can empower their employees, unify their environment, and protect their data, ultimately helping to embrace consumerisation and a people-centric IT model, while maintaining corporate compliance.
Allowing employees to use their personal devices for and at work will benefit employers in terms of improving performance, enhancing productivity and organisational morale. The happy consumer within the enterprise is likely to lead to a satisfied customer for the business.
Felix Foong is Lead of the Cloud & Enterprise Business Group at Microsoft Malaysia.
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